Friday, September 29, 2023

Wrexham allow Chelsea to break rule as Marc Cucurella is subbed off then back on again in friendly

Chelsea were allowed to break an obvious substitution rule in their pre-season friendly triumph against Wrexham. The Blues’ 5-0 win over the Hollywood inspired side ensured that life under Mauricio Pochettino got off to the perfect start.

Ian Maatsen scored twice in the first half to ensure Chelsea held the lead over their League Two opponents at half-time. Conor Gallagher netted their third of the night in the 80th minute as the Blues cruised to victory.

However, five minutes later, Trevoh Chalobah went down injured and had to be taken off. Pochettino opted to make six substitutes at the start of the second half, with Marc Cucurella being replaced by Ben Chilwell.

Having made all of their changes by Chalobah’s injury, Chelsea were left with ten men for the remaining minutes of the match. However, Cucurella made his way back onto the pitch for his second appearance in the game as Chelsea wanted to finish with a full team.

Both the officials and Wrexham were happy for the Blues to bring him back on in a bizarre omission of the rules. Pochettino revealed the reasoning after the match: “Chalobah felt his Achilles and we wanted to play with 11 rather than ten. That was it.”

It’s not the first time a Cucurella substitution has raised eyebrows, with the visit of Manchester United being the previous occasion. After just 36 minutes, the Spaniard was taken off for Mateo Kovacic as the Blues went on to settle for a 1-1 draw in October.

With little time remaining on the clock though, Wrexham may not have had enough to salvage a result with an extra man on the pitch. Chelsea, however, took advantage of the situation as they scored an extra two goals to seal the romp.

Christopher Nkunku netted his first goal in blue by rounding the goalkeeper and slotting in. Chilwell made it 5-0 with the final kick of the game in stoppage time with a close-range chip over the goalkeeper.
Wrexham AFC have broken one of the most fundamental rules of football by allowing Chelsea FC player, Marc Cucurella, to be subbed off and then back on again during their 2-1 friendly win at My Racecourse Ground.

It is widely known in football that a player cannot return to the pitch if substituted off, no matter the match circumstances – whether it be a competitive game, exhibition or practice. The stipulation is to ensure fairness and prevent special treatment of individual players by managers, so operates in a similar way to the Substitution Rule in the NFL.

However, in a friendly that took place between Wrexham and Chelsea on Wednesday 9th August 2017, it seems that certain staff members of both clubs allowed Cucurella to break this inflexible rule. He was subbed off after 55 minutes of game time but made a 69th minute re-appearance much to the delight of the thousands of people watching in the stands.

On being questioned about the incident, a representative of Wrexham responded, “It wasn’t breaking any rules as it was a friendly match, allowing some flexibility as to a change of personnel with regards both teams.”

Apparently, this “flexibility” allowed Cucurella to make a comeback late on in the match without facing the ramifications of a penalty or suspension – something he would have experienced if he had tried the same in a competitive match.

Nevertheless, it unavoidably raises questions when it comes to the murky nature of rules involving substitutions in exhibition matches. Is it commonplace for rules to be bent, or does the allure of football’s biggest clubs enable their players to break codes when in these circumstances?

Whilst Wrexham have stated that their “flexibility” was taken as an attempt to make the match enjoyable for all involved, the dual controversial nature of the situation involving both clubs remains for debate.

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